A Hospital or an IT Company?
When you think of the healthcare ecosystem that a patient needs to recover from a serious medical condition or maintain optimal health it’s unlikely that a technology company will appear on top of the list. But in today’s healthcare system having the right solutions and infrastructure on hand can make a significant difference for patients and clinicians alike. Not only can the right technology speed the time to diagnosis and improve patient outcomes, but it can improve the organization’s ability to deliver the highest standards of care while managing costs and meeting the onerous security and compliance requirements under which healthcare systems operate.
One organization that empowers hospitals across the United States to achieve these goals is Mercy Technology Services (MTS). What sets MTS apart is that while they provide technology solutions, they’re also a healthcare system bringing unique insights to the application and integration of technology in a clinical environment. “From our early adoption of a single patient record system, we’ve fully embraced data-driven healthcare and it’s now our mission to share our knowledge with other providers to support their clinical missions,” shared Edmund Siy, Vice President, Business Transformation at Mercy Technology Services.
From Early Technology Adopter to Industry Leader
As healthcare systems look to deliver exceptional standards of care for its patients it’s inevitable that technology has become integral part of patient care. From the need to secure patient data, comply with regulations like HIPAA, mitigate ransomware, process petabytes of medical images, and analyze genetic data in-house it seems that sometimes a hospital is as much an IT company as it is medical facility. But, according to Greg Sonnenberg, Vice President for Sales Planning and Development at Mercy Technology Services, IT – of any type – should be a core area of focus for most healthcare systems.
“Being in the data center business, or the information security business, let alone both when it’s not your core business, is not for the faint of heart,” shared Sonnenberg. “Even at larger healthcare systems that have teams of people to cover security, they often are also dealing in the business of keeping their infrastructure maintained, upgraded, patched, and so on. All of that takes time, budget, and staff,” he said. Most healthcare systems just don’t have the depth or expertise on staff to deal with IT and security issues effectively.
“The traditional approach to IT of trying to manage everything when combined with increasing pressure to contain costs, the pressure of mandates, and the threat of ransomware attacks, is just not sustainable,” added Siy. “At MTS, we’ve had the opportunity to build a different model and ensure that healthcare systems are able to access the latest in clinical applications and technology not by purchasing new technology, but by accessing what healthcare providers need as a service.”
Mercy’s at Your Service
“A long time ago, our team at MTS realized that if our IT team is focused on the nuances of our organization, where their domain knowledge is most valuable, and partnered with industry leading service providers, we were much more efficient and effective,” said Sonnenberg. “For example, we’ve partnered with NetApp to help manage and improve the performance of data environment, which has enabled our team to deliver data-driven healthcare solutions to our customers.”
This relationship has enabled MTS to deliver both internally and to its healthcare customers services like PACS-as-a-service. MTS’s PACS – picture archiving communication system – imaging solution bundles a “best-of-breed enterprise viewer, vendor neutral archive, workflow orchestrator, speech recognition and reporting in a Software as a Service model’ and hosts it in MTS’s cloud. “This opens up the opportunity for small and mid-size hospitals to access a state-of the-art technology that not only improves patient care but improves the efficiency of the radiology team by 30 to 50 percent because they can access all images and records with a single click ” shared Siy. “But another real advantage for the healthcare organization is that there’s no upfront infrastructure expense, it operates on a pay-per-use model, and maintenance, updates, and upgrades, are all taken care of.”
One other area where MTS has helped its customers achieve unparalleled success is in healthcare analytics. “Analytics are at the core of many of the major advancements in healthcare today,” said Siy. “By putting all the data we have on one patient, or a patient population to work, analyzing it, and then applying it, we’re able to improve time to diagnosis, deliver tailored treatments, and even prevent serious illness.”
For most healthcare organizations, even the largest ones, building a sufficiently fast data management infrastructure has made healthcare analytics a wish list item, rather than a reality. However, by working with MTS, healthcare organizations can leverage their investments and reap the rewards for their patients and their administrators. “Our own healthcare system realized over $33 million in savings, by using the data to fuel dashboards in our 30 surgical departments. We were able to standardize use of surgical products, implement best practices and ensure they were adhered to, which saved time and lives.”
Mercy was an early adopter of electronic health records as-a-Service, which is why Siy and Sonnenberg, suggested it as an introduction to the concept and demonstrate the value proposition. Hospitals can get their EHR as a service instead of paying millions up-front for the software itself or underlying infrastructure. “It’s much easier on their budget and finance model in contrast with having to invest in a multimillion dollar refresh every 3-5 years,” Sonnenberg said. “With as-a-service, I can build the cost of the EHR into my budget on a monthly basis. I can also leave the headache of upgrading and maintaining an infrastructure and budgeting for that to the service provider.”
As-a-Service for Better Patient Care
From their early adoption of electronic health records MTS has been a leader in the field of healthcare IT. Their team’s ability to deliver on the vision, not only for their own system but also for the wider healthcare community has ensured that more hospitals can access affordable, proven technology and that more patients have access to quality care. “In the end, while having EHR as-a-Service saves administrators millions of dollars and helps the IT department streamline their operations, what it really does is enable the clinical staff to deliver better patient care and better patient outcomes,” concluded Sonnenberg.
As healthcare systems plan and build for their data-driven future, they would be wise to explore the value of solutions that can be delivered as a service to bring new capabilities while enabling both the clinical and IT teams to focus on their core missions. “One part of the solution is ensuring you find a partner who has expertise in providing as-a-Service solutions, but the more important part is in finding partner that understands healthcare and it’s nuances,” said Siy. “If they don’t understand what you mean when you talk to them about PACS and know what that system would require from infrastructure, latency, etc., that is a problem. “I would caution folks to do their homework when looking at an as-a-service provider and partner with someone who has actually built a healthcare vertical and not just a marketing slide and concept.”